Juvenile Fire Play

Image of child playing with lighter

Kids and Fire

The crime of arson has the highest rate of juvenile involvement of all other crimes. In Washington State, 63% of all arson arrests were children under 18, with nearly 80% of these ages 15 or younger, and with more than 9% under the age of 10. Juvenile fire setters continue to account for a disproportionate share of arson arrests according the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and USFA National Fire Data Center statistics and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Report.

The Vancouver Fire Department offers a limited juvenile fire setting assessment and intervention program where help is just a phone call away for parents of children who show an inordinate fascination with fire, or who are actively setting fires. Your fire department can intervene in problem firesetting behaviors. Call the Vancouver Fire Marshal's Office at (360) 487-7260.

The Vancouver Fire Marshal's Office recommends SOS Fires as a wealth of educational resources for juvenile fire play.

Tips for reducing arson and firesetting opportunities:


  • Store matches and lighters out of the reach and sight of children, preferably up high or in a locked cabinet.
  • Never use lighters or matches as a source of amusement for children; they may imitate what you do.
  • Report suspicious activity near a house or other building to the local police and support Neighborhood Watch programs.
  • Keep doors and windows locked when a building is unoccupied.
  • Keep leaves, firewood, overgrown brush and shrubbery and other combustibles away from buildings. Most arson fires are started outdoors. Don’t make it easy for a youthful fire setter or juvenile arsonist to start a fire, or easy for an outdoor fire to spread to a building.
  • Finally, if you suspect a child is intentionally setting fires or unduly fascinated with fire, get help immediately. Your local fire department, school, or community counseling agency can put you in touch with experts trained to help in these matters.

Fire in the hands of children destroys -- regardless of a child’s age or motivation. In Washington State, most of the lives lost are those of the very children setting the fires.

Over 50% of all fires are set by children under the age of 18. By drawing people’s attention to the staggering statistics about youth/juvenile firesetting, the Vancouver Fire Department hopes to help families by providing the necessary support to reduce or end this crime.

Please use the contact us link if you would like to speak with us.